“Why do you always think you have to act so strong?” My husband has asked me this more than once. Why? Sometimes I really don’t know. I try hard to tell my true feelings, but so often my automatic pilot kicks into a front of strength that I don’t really feel.
I often put on an “I’m fine” mask. I can be struggling both physically and emotionally with chronic illness, but I’m fine. My heart can feel like it’s in a million pieces, but I’m fine. My soul can feel destitute of hope, but I’m fine.
Why do some of us hide our emotions? Whether we are aware of it or not, the past has so much to do with it. The life experiences we’ve been through reflect in our behavior towards ourselves or others (both good and bad). Sometimes it results in hiding under masks of different shapes, sizes, and colors.
When I search my heart, I am certain pains from the past influence my not daring to share true-to-my-heart feelings. Sometimes I put on an “I’m fine” mask, because:
- I’m afraid I will hurt someone’s feelings, even if I do tell the truth in love.
- I’m afraid I will again be hurt or rejected by either silence or words.
- I figure my feelings don’t count anyway.
- I’m afraid I won’t be believed or understood anyway.
- I feel ashamed to expose who I really am or where I’ve been. People won’t accept me or will look at me differently.
- When I expose vulnerability in me or show my need for help or encouragement, I feel panicked and unsafe. It makes me feel weak and powerless, like I’m opening up myself for others to take advantage of me.
Fear can be so powerful, can’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just flip a switch to move forward? To really believe God has us in His grip no matter what?
If only we could just step out inadequate and afraid, believing in our hearts that in our weakness, Jesus is powerful and will supply sufficient grace.
If only we could put on our blinders and see nothing but Jesus holding out His hand. The love in His eyes thawing our frozen hearts so we can reach out and grasp it.
If only we could immerse ourselves more into what Jesus thinks of us, not what people or negative voices within us tell us. To truly believe we are wonderfully created, deeply cherished, and unconditionally accepted by Him.
If only… Perhaps we would then be more ready to take off our masks and be who we truly are and who God meant us to be.
Life can be a struggle, can’t it? Do you hide the pain you’re really struggling with behind a mask? If yes, why do you think you do it? Not everyone understands, believes, or even wants to hear you, but that’s their choice. That doesn’t make you a less-than-special person.
And you know what? What matters is that Jesus will always understand you, believe you, and cry with you. His hope line is open 24/7.
I pray that this year you and I will learn to be our authentic selves and we will be freed to fly!